Jewish co-chairs abound in Obama reelection campaign

List includes Alan Solow, Rahm Emanuel, former Sen. Russ Feingold Penny Pritzker, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Marc Benioff.

February 22, 2012 21:34
2 minute read.
Obamas at White House Hannukah party

Obama and wife Michelle at White House Hannukah party 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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WASHINGTON – The list of Obama campaign national co-chairs released Wednesday includes several prominent Jewish supporters, including Rahm Emanuel, former White House chief of staff and current Chicago mayor, and Penny Pritzker, heir to the Hyatt hotel dynasty.

The 35 named co-chairs also include Jewish politicians Colorado Senator Michael Bennett, Illinois Representative Jan Schakowsky and former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, as well as businessman Marc Benioff and Alan Solow, former chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.

Solow, who was a member of Obama’s national finance committee in the 2008 race, said his new role “involves making sure that the American electorate, including the Jewish community, is aware of the president’s accomplishments during the first term.”

Among the accomplishments he included strong support for Israel, ensuring Israel maintains its qualitative military edge and a smart policy on Iran.

Republican Tevi Troy, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and an advisor to the Romney campaign, said he wasn’t surprised by the names on Obama’s list, but questioned the decision of prominent members of the Jewish community to support Obama after what he described as “three pretty frosty years” of US-Israel relations.

“We can expect more of the same despite his campaign hiatus,” Troy said, referring to Obama’s recent “charm offensive” on Israel.

He characterized the overall composition of campaign co-chairs as a “standard Democratic coalition list,” though it does include one former Republican, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, now an Independent.

Though many in the pro- Israel community criticized the positions of Chafee’s father John, who once served as a Rhode Island senator, Troy said he could not recall any problematic stances taken by the governor.

He also said that while some of the political figures listed, such as Schakowsky, are “clearly to the left” of his own stance on Israel, “I don’t look at this list and think it’s an anti-Israel list.”

Doug Bloomfield, who once worked as a legislative director for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said that Schakowsky and the other co-chairs from Illinois had deep roots in the Jewish community there.

“They’re not people who happen to be Jewish,” he said. “These are people who care about the Jewish community.”

“Not only does the president have strong relationships with the community, but the reverse is true,” said Solow, a Chicago native who knows Obama from his campaign for the Illinois state senate. “Everybody on this list is undertaking the job with a great deal of enthusiasm because we know this man and what he stands for.”

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